Is your DAPA child now over 21?

IN November 2014, Pres. Obama announced a program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which would have allowed parents of U.S. citizens (or lawful permanent residents) to remain in the U.S. and obtain work authorization without fear of deportation. Their child could have been of any age or marital status. Many people applied (or were eligible) for DAPA because they had a minor child who was a U.S. citizen.

Unfortunately, there were legal challenges to the DAPA program and court injunctions, bringing that program to a halt. That was approximately six years ago. However, if your U.S. citizen child has now turned 21 years of age, or will soon celebrate his or her 21st birthday, there could be new hope for you, by having your child now petition you as an immediate relative parent.

Just recently, I had a phone consultation with a person who had been eligible for DAPA (because he had a U.S. citizen minor child), but after the court injunctions, he could not go forward. Now, the U.S. citizen child on whom the DAPA case was based had just celebrated his 21st birthday. This happy parent would now be in a position to have the child petition him for a green card.

I know many other parents of U.S. citizens could have been eligible for DAPA had this program not halted because they had a minor U.S. citizen child. If the child has now turned 21, that could provide a new avenue for the parent to legalize his status.

But I would still advise these parents to, nevertheless, consult with an attorney. There have been many changes since Obama announced DAPA, most important of which is the election of Pres. Trump and his strict enforcement of immigration laws. An attorney can evaluate your situation, to make sure you are eligible to be processed for your green card in the U.S. This is because certain types of visas (or entering the U.S. without inspection or cannot locate entry passport) could make a person ineligible to obtain a green card in the U.S., even if being petitioned by a U.S. citizen child. There could also be issues if you had made any misrepresentations such as entering under an assumed name, or committed certain crimes, or have an existing deportation order. There are new requirements relating to affidavits of support and public charge. (If your child just turned 21, he or she may not be earning enough to meet the poverty guidelines for an affidavit of support. What can you do about that?)
USCIS is also taking a very tough and strict stand on filings, and has a policy to deny cases outright if any required documents or evidence are not included at the initial filing. (Before, USCIS might have served a request for evidence for the additional documents or information. Now, the case could be denied outright and the person be put in deportation.)

Although it may appear simple and straightforward to be petitioned as an immediate relative, there are still a lot of checkpoints to get through, including the interview, when the USCIS officer may grill you about your entire immigration history, etc. That’s why I would recommend you retain an attorney for something as important as your future in the U.S.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 35 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories”, endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.

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